Martin Parr retrospective: from fish & chips to mass tourism

Yesterday, together with a horde of other visitors (note to self: never ever again visit the usually peaceful C/O on a Sunday) i checked out Assorted Cocktail, Martin Parr‘s retrospective which features Bored Couples, Last resort, The Phone Book, Small World, Common Sense, Think of England, Think of Germany, Knokke-le-Zoute, Glasgow and Mexico.


The photographic series, taken between 1985 and 2003, guide us from what could be regarded as the essence of “english-ness” to the garish effects of globalization.

0aamartinpalev.jpgNew Brighton, Merseyside, from “The Last Resort”

Apart from Knokke which so so much reminded me of my childhood holidays in nearby Ostende, the work i found most endearing was Last Resort, one of Parr’s first successful series, the one that brought him fame and a reputation for being a sarcastic chronicler of our times. Taken between 1983 and 1986, these photographies formed a snapshot of a typical Summer day in the life of holidaymakers in the seaside resort of New Brighton. There´s more to it than a few teenagers queuing for ice cream though as the series reflects the social decline and distress of the working class during the era of Margaret Thatcher.

0abebepleur.jpgNew Brighton, Merseyside, from “The Last Resort”

Bored Couple gets the Award for hilariousness. Yet, it is also a very bitter award as i guess very few among us have escaped those moments when love appears to give way to indifference and dullness.

0ainfindllandbo.jpgFINLAND–On a ferry between Helsinki and Stockholm, 1991

Slate has a slideshow.

Small World dates back to the early ’90s but the insanity and inanity of mass tourism it portrays have only become more widespread and acute with the passing of time.

0aaindeschnee.jpgKleine Scheidegg, Small World, 1994

From 2000 onwards, Martin Parr travelled around the world to document the high and low (but most notably the low and very low sides) of daily life in Russia (Stalin World), Germany (Think of Germany), England (Think of England), and Belgium (Knokke-le-Zoute).

0athinkofberli.jpgThink of Germany, Berlin, 2002

Parr also went to Mexico and flew back with a photo series that made me think that he was so charmed by the country that he left his sarcastic lens in good old Europe.

0aafrommexxi.jpgUntitled from the series Mexico, 2002-04

Both BBC and The Morning News have slideshows on the Mexico series.

More images in Magnum, Der Spiegel, artnet, Stern,

At C/O Berlin, The Cultural Forum for Visual Dialogues, until February 24.

0aadaenglafal.jpgSedlescombe, from the series Think of England, 2000-2003

Previous shows seen at C/O: The Bread Man, Weegee’s Story.